Summer Movie Showdown: "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" Review


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Summer Movie Showdown: "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" Review

Rating: R (for strong sci-fi action and violence, and for language)
Length: 137 min
Release date: March 3, 1991
Directed by: James Cameron
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, and Thriller

"Terminator 2: Judgment Day" is the first sequel in the classic "Terminator" movie franchise. The story imagines a postapocalyptic future Los Angeles in which an army of advanced machines have enslaved all but a single remnant of humanity, known as the resistance. The machines are led by a highly capable artificial intelligence known as Skynet that began a violent takeover of earth once it gained awareness through the Internet. John Connor, the leader of the future resistance forces of humans against the machines, is a fierce warrior who represents the only real threat to Skynet.

"Terminator 2: Judgment Day" picks up where "Terminator" left off, following a young John Connor (Edward Furlong), and his mother, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). Hamilton is by far the most iconic actress to play the waitress turned warrior, Sarah Connor. Her fierce protective instincts and military skill serve her in keeping her son safe when machines from the future travel back in time to wipe out their biggest threat before he can even exist. Although the machine plot to kill Sarah before she became pregnant was foiled, the machines are at it again as they return to the past to kill John when he is just a young boy.

Two machines are sent back in time to relentlessly pursue their missions. The twist of "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" is that one of those machines is programmed by future John himself to protect his younger version from harm. Understandably, Sarah's mother has a difficult time trusting an exact copy of the T-800 machine that killed her lover and John's father, Kyle, in the first film.

Against all odds, the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) forms a unique and touching bond with the young savior of mankind. "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" is heralded by many fans and critics as the best of the "Terminator" movie franchise to date. Not only has Linda Hamilton achieved iconic status for her role as the indomitable Sarah Connor, but Arnold Schwarzenegger's character is known for some of the most quoted lines in movie history. Schwarzenegger's role reprisal in this sequel fulfills his character's promise in the first movie: "I'll be back."

In spite of the movie's title, "Judgment Day" is about more than just the machines. While the special effects and fight scenes were groundbreaking for its 1991 debut, the film remains a classic because of its novel and touching storytelling. John Connor may be the future savior of mankind, but it's his mother, Sarah Connor, who really steals the show in this film. Not only has her very perception of reality been shaken and replaced with a futuristic nightmare that only a handful of people, including her, are aware of, but she is presumed crazy enough that the state takes away her only son. The beginning of the movie shows Sarah in a mental institution, her spirit and body wounded but not broken. The audience watches and sympathizes with her fight to escape and take her son back before the machines can get to him.

The acting in the film is emotional, powerful, and surprisingly relatable considering the remarkable circumstances the characters find themselves in. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a lovable but intimidating machine that just might be more than a scrap of metal and circuits. John's growing friendship with the T-800 who is designed to protect him is touching, but it's also alarming in light of the events of the original film. Sarah is understandably upset by the fact that a machine that is identical to the one that killed John's father is becoming close to her son, but at the same time, she feels guilty that their life on the run prevents him from having normal companions. The unlikely trio must learn to trust one another, because their greatest threat lies outside their group in the form of a machine more ruthless and powerful than any they have encountered before. Robert Patrick delivers a chilling performance as the T-1000, and his character has since been recognized as the most formidable foe in the "Terminator" franchise.

"Terminator 2: Judgment Day" is a cult classic for fans of the science fiction genre. It delivers great special effects, well-choreographed fight scenes, and a unique storyline, but it also transcends its genre with heartwarming storytelling and compelling characters. Even against a force of nearly unstoppable machines that are more advanced than humans could ever hope to be, director James Cameron proves that the only truly unstoppable force is the human will to survive.

Rated: 4 out of 5